National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Events, Talks and Visits

Events, Talks and Visits

We host a variety of events, talks and visits, including lectures on historical themes and records, introductory talks on family history, school workshops and visits by groups in further and higher education and evening classes in palaeography. The seminar facility at New Register House Dome can be booked for meetings and conferences.

Talks and visits

National Records of Scotland talks programme

All NRS talks and events are free, except for ScotlandsPeople sessions as noted, and they take place in General Register House or New Register House. Please see our location map. Places can be booked during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9.00 – 16.30) via the General Register House Reception on 0131 535 1314, or by following the 'Book Online' links below.

Please be aware, we ask visitors to register for our talks by following the 'Book Online' links below. However due to last minute cancellations there are often additional spaces available on the day. In this instance, any additional spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

For further information call the Reception or email:

7 August 2018, 2.00 - 3.00pm, General Register House
The Movement for Women's Suffrage in Scotland, 1867-1928

Dr Esther Breitenbach, Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh
Book Online

The Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage, the first in Scotland, came into being in 1867 - and was continuously in existence until 1918, when women over 30, and satisfying the requisite property qualification, were given the parliamentary franchise. In the intervening years, women campaigned for political rights, supported women’s election to school boards and local government, and took up a range of issues concerning women’s rights and welfare. The constitutional campaigners, the suffragists, embarked on a new wave of expansion and organisation at the same time as Scottish branches of militant organisations such as the Women’s Social and Political Union and the Women’s Freedom League were founded. Connected to British-wide networks, the women’s suffrage movement had a significant presence in Scotland. Women activists kept up the pressure, and, while welcoming the partial enfranchisement of 1918, continued to lobby for the Equal Franchise, finally achieved in 1928.

Drawing primarily on sources from the National Records of Scotland, this talk will illustrate key phases in the movement, the role of suffragists and suffragettes, and the continuing campaign for political rights after 1918.

Book online

15 August 2018, 12.00 - 1.00pm, General Register House
The Scottish Suffragettes and the Press

Professor Sarah Pederson, Robert Gordon University
Book Online

Newspaper coverage of the women’s suffrage movement was key in raising the profile of women’s demand for the Parliamentary vote. The suffragette leaders were Public Relations experts, holding processions, marches and public meetings, which received detailed coverage in both national and local newspapers. In their turn, newspapers quickly found that stories about the suffragettes sold newspapers, particularly stories about militant actions such as window smashing, attacks on MPs and arson. Scottish newspaper readers were especially interested in reading about Scottish suffragettes, whether they were being arrested and sent to prison in London, or – even more exciting – threatening violence in their own home towns.

The majority of the coverage of the campaign for the vote has focused on events in London. In this talk I will explore the value of Scottish newspapers in providing a different view of the women’s suffrage campaign and how Scottish newspapers presented the story to their readers.

Sarah Pedersen is author of ‘The Scottish Suffragettes and the Press’ (2017) and ‘Caroline Phillips: Scottish Suffragette and Journalist’ (2018).

Book online

23 August 2018, 11.00 - 12.00pm, General Register House
Discovering Edinburgh's first New Town at Register House: sources and revelations on architects and builders

Anthony Lewis, Curator of Scottish History of Glasgow Life
Book Online

The names of some of the architects of Edinburgh’s New Town may be familiar, James Craig, Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers, but what about the tradesmen and builders who worked and honed their craft over 30 years constructing the New Town? In this talk Anthony Lewis, curator of Scottish History at Glasgow Life, will cover how archives can reveal the realities and ambitions of the architects and builders who planned and constructed Edinburgh’s first New Town from 1767 to the 1790s. Drawing upon several types of archives accessible at NRS, General Register House – a fitting testament for a building which was purpose built to house archives to be studied, and in many ways symbolises the improvements and expansion Edinburgh City yearned for.

Book online

30 August 2018, 11.00 - 12.00pm, General Register House
After Suffrage: Feminism in interwar Scotland

Dr Valerie Wright, Research Associate, Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow
Book Online

It is traditionally assumed that after the partial enfranchisement of women in 1918 the women’s movement in the UK became moribund. Nothing could be further from the truth. The campaign for equality continued with suffragists and suffragettes continuing to work in a variety of women’s organisations in campaigns to improve the lives of women of all backgrounds. New organisations were established which focused on ‘active citizenship’ and encouraged women to use their votes as well as demand an extension of the franchise to all women. One such organisation was the Edinburgh Women’s Citizens Association (EWCA), a non-party explicitly feminist organisation which supported female candidates in local and national elections. It was affiliated to the Scottish Council of Women’s Citizens Assocations (SCWCA), which had branches throughout Scotland. The records for both the EWCA and SCWCA are held in the National Records of Scotland. In this talk I will discuss how these archive materials can be used, along with other sources, to find out more about the campaigns and demands of feminists in interwar Scotland, with a focus on Edinburgh.

Dr Valerie Wright serves on the steering committee of Women’s History Scotland and is a co-author and curator of ‘The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland, 1867-1928: A learning Resource’ available at

Book online

Talks and visits for groups in further and higher education

We deliver a limited number of specialised talks/workshops for groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students. To make enquiries, please contact: or telephone 0131 535 1354.

Schools programme

For information on school visits and workshops, visit the Scottish Archives for Schools website or contact our Education team at

Evening Class

Archivists from the NRS run evening classes in palaeography on behalf of the University of Edinburgh's Office of Lifelong Learning. This practical course in Scottish Handwriting covering the period 1500-1700 takes place at General Register House.

New Register House Dome Seminar Facility

The New Register House Dome is a unique venue, purpose-built to house the Scottish birth, death and marriage records dating back to 1553. The Dome Seminar Facility can be booked for meetings and conferences.